[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] The Clash – Combat Rock

Clash - Combat rock


Combat Rock

Clash - Combat rockReleased: May 14, 1982
Recorded: 1980-1981
Genre: Punk, Punk Rock, Post Punk
Length: 46:21
Label: CBS, Epic
Producer(s): The Clash, Glyn Johns
Singles: “Know Your Rights”, “Should I Stay or Should I Go”, “Rock The Casbah”, “Straight to Hell”
Personnel: Joe Strummer – lead and backing vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano; Mick Jones – guitar, backing and lead vocals, keyboards, sound effects; Paul Simonon – bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on “Red Angel Dragnet”; Topper Headon – drums, piano and bass guitar on “Rock the Casbah”
Certified: 2xPlatinum (RIAA)

TRACKLIST:

“Know Your Rights”
“Car Jamming”
“Should I Stay or Should I Go”
“Rock the Casbah”
“Red Angel Deagnet”
“Straight to Hell”
“Overpowered by Funk”
“Atom Tan”
“Sean Flynn”
“Ghetto Defendant”
“Inoculated City”
“Death Is A Star”

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OVERVIEW

Let’s talk about the Clash and their best-selling album of all time – “Combat Rock”. A sell-out or not, “Combat Rock” could easily find its place among some of the most exciting punk rock albums of all time. Not only in happens to be the final record by the Clash’s original line-up but it also best illustrates the band’s versatile talents and eagerness to experiment and take chances. The truly intriguing aspects of “Combat Rock” are The Clash’s provoking efforts to incorporate reggae, funk and rap into their heavy punk sound.

With “Combat Rock”, the Clash seemingly takes a step back from their previous expressive efforts we can witness in “London Calling” and “Sandinista!”. However, we still get to experience a quite delightful inconsistency and interesting mess that this pure avant-garde selection of punk rock tunes offers us.

Without doubt, the finest moments of the record have to be “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and “Rock the Casbah”. I say finest because those simple and hooking ultimate punk rock anthems became the absolute winning hand for the Clash and this record. With the foolish but fantastic rhythm of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” the Clash dominated the radio waves and is still probably their most instantly-recognizable tune. “Rock the Casbah”, on the other hand, brings us some solid new wave, dance vibes. “Know Your Rights” and “Death Is A Star” are songs that impress with strong, fighting words, though “Death Is A Star” is one of those songs which makes us question ourselves whether we are listening to the Clash or it’s a completely different band – it just sounds too bizarre. “Car Jamming” and “Ghetto Defendant” are more dynamic and bass-oriented tunes that give us this good old nice chilling out effect. “Straight To Hell” has to be the most unforgettable song of the album due to its haunting and strange, even a bit uncomfortable atmosphere it creates. “Overpowered by Funk” sounds very out of place but then again, the album’s aim is the opposite of providing us with a consistent feeling. On the contrary, if you want to get rid of your boredom and have fun, this is the album for you.

Overall, inconsistency might be a good thing when it’s done in the right way and with the right proportion of experimentation and variety. “Combat Rock” is too strange, too wild and too distressing. However, after all, we are talking about the Clash and they can never be anything else than that. Many critics slammed this record and even pointed it as the band’s biggest selling out effort. Regardless, with this album, the band managed to reach a much larger audience and leave a much greater impression which, if you ask me, speaks volumes.

Cheers!


Should I Stay or Should I Go

Rock the Casbah

Overpowered by Funk



P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.

The publication expresses my personal opinion and in no way is trying to make a generalized statement. Please be kind and considerate when you read and/or comment.
Cheers~

 

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] Rainbow – Bent Out of Shape

rainbow - bent out of shape


 

BENT OUT OF SHAPE

rainbow - bent out of shapeReleased: August 24, 1983
Recorded: Sweet Silence Studios, Copenhagen, Denmark, May – June 1983
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Rock
Length: 40:25

Label: Mercury (North America), Polydor
Producer(s): Roger Glover
Singles: “Street of Dreams”, “Anybody There”, “Can’t Let You Go”, “All Night Long”
Personnel: Ritchie Blackmore – guitar, Roger Glover – bass, percussion, producer, Joe Lynn Turner – vocals, David Rosenthal – keyboard, Chuck Burgi – drums

Accomplishments: “Anybody There” was nominated for a Grammy Award as the Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1984.

TRACKLIST:

“Stranded”
“Can’t Let You Go”
“Fool for the Night”
“Fire Dance”
“Anybody There” (Instrumental)
“Desperate Heart”
“Street of Dreams”
“Drinking with the Devil”
“Snowman” (Instrumental)
“Make Your Move”

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OVERVIEW:

“Bent Out of Shape” is Rainbow’s seventh studio effort and their third one with Joe Lynn Turner as the frontman of the band. This AOR treasure is truly the peak of Ritchie Blackmore and Joe’s collaborative songwriting skills as the majority of the tunes are written and composed by those two outstanding musicians. Unfortunately, this record also marks the end of Rainbow’s glory days of prolific and exceptional music. “Bent out of Shape” was particularly designed for and aimed at U.S audiences and despite its commercial success all over Europe; the record indeed was mostly appreciated in the USA. The legendary Roger Glover produced the album and managed to, quite successfully create a brilliant crossover record with the exact right doze of commercialism, radio-appeal and of course – pure old school hard rock.

There’s something quite mysterious and melancholic about this album – from the menacing organs to Joe’s operatic vocals and Ritchie’s dark instrumental solos, the album is definitely bringing us the “old horror movie” vibe.  In “Bent out of Shape”, Joe Lynn Turner best demonstrates the range of his vocal abilities as each and every note he sings is full of emotion, passion and intensity that can’t but leave you speechless. In addition to that, what we also get from this record is variety – the audience can enjoy a beautiful collection of classic hard-rockers and instrumentals that go so well together. “Bent out of Shape” provides and a nice and smooth flow that keeps us curious till the very end.

The fines moment of the record has to be “Can’t Let You Go” – a song that is simply timeless. It’s been more than 20 years since its release, but people are still haunted by the stunning organ intro, poetic lyrics and acute keyboards. “Desperate Heart” is the perfect example of an 80s pop-metal tune on which the listeners get to witness one of Blackmore’s greatest solo works. The classical instrumental “Anybody There” is quite dark and depressing, however Ritchie’s excellence makes up for the gloomy mood of the track. “Snowman” is the other brilliant instrumental that contributes to the overall eerie vibe of the album. “Sweet of Dreams” became the ultimate commercial success of the record and one of Rainbow’s greatest classics. Full of melody and dominant vocals, though again a bit gloomy, the song truly rocks pretty hard!

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this album to rock lovers who are searching for something more sophisticated and artsy. “Bent out of Shape” lacks depth and most certainly isn’t an example of a lyrically-outstanding record. It may even sound a bit “casual” as we progress from one song to another. However, it brings other valuable concepts to the table – solid rock music, slaying vocals, brilliant keyboard details and of course – there’s Ritchie Blackmore who effortlessly solidifies the rather soft feel of the record!
Cheers!

Listen to some of the finest moments of “Bent out of Shape” :

Can’t Let You Go

Street of Dreams

Desperate Heart

Anybody There


Credits:
“Bent Out of Shape” official Wikipedia webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bent_Out_of_Shape
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] Bryan Adams – Reckless

bryan adams - reckless

“Reckless” is undoubtedly one of the most successful and internationally appraised solo albums of Bryan Adams. The record sold over 12 million copies worldwide and spawned 6 hit singles all of which made it to the top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100! The album also reached top chart positions in other countries, such as New Zealand, Norway, Australia and of course – Canada. Bob Clearmountain – a mastermind music engineer and producer stood next to Bryan Adams and helped craft this straight up rock ‘n’ roll record.  He had also worked with notable artists, such as Toto, The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Simple Minds and many more. The results were quite obvious – “Reckless” is a straight up, shockingly direct but well- schemed convergence of pop and hard edge rock ‘n’ roll! Let’s look more into it…


 

RECKLESS

bryan adams - recklessReleased: November 5, 1984
Recorded: March–August 1984 at Little Mountain Sound Studios, Vancouver, Canada
(“Heaven” – recorded in June 1983)
Genre: Rock
Length: 37:58
Label: A&M
Producer(s): Bob Clearmountain, Bryan Adams
Singles: “Run to You”, “Somebody”, “Heaven”, “Summer of 96”, “One Night Love Affair”, “It’s Only Love”
Personnel: Bryan Adams – lead vocals, guitars, piano, harmonica, hand claps, foot stomping and a long list of awesome musicians who contributed (including Tina Turner)
Certified: 5xPlatinum (RIAA)

 

TRACKLIST:

“One Night Love Affair”
“She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin'”  
“Run to You”
“Heaven”
“Somebody”
“Summer of 69”
“Kids Wanna Rock”
“It’s Only Love” (w/ Tina Turner)
“Long Gone”
“Ain’t Gonna Cry”

vinyl reckless bryan adams

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OVERVIEW

“Reckless” is a rocker full of enthusiasm, energy and honesty. If you are in the mood for something soft and gentle, this is most definitely not the album for you. “Reckless” has a quite promising and directly-to-the-point start– “One Night Love Affair” hits us hard from the first second. One of the best nostalgia songs also features in this album – “Summer of 69” which in addition to bringing back tons of memories, impresses us with uplifting rhythm guitars and catchy melody. The absolute highlight of this album is the glorious duet with the soulful and brilliant Tina Turner“It’s Only Love”. The duet was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1986 and we can only wonder why didn’t they get the award – the song is an absolute mood changer. The promising “Run to You” and “Somebody” are also the ultimate radio favorites due to their refined beats and friendly lyrics. “Heaven” is an evergreen – a ballad we can’t get enough and the ballad of the ballads! The album wraps things up the same way it started – with an atmospheric, confident and straight up rock ‘n’ roll vibe in the face of “Ain’t Gonna Cry”.

Overall, the album was done exceptionally and does what I believe should be the ultimate goal of each record – it makes people happy. The greatness of the album lies in its simplicity – yes, I do agree that the lyrics are too ordinary and not at all meant to trigger a deep emotional response and yes – the melodies are not as complicated and refined, however this is a fun, rock n’ roll radio-perfect album that is meant to be entertaining, fun and enjoyable. I personally find it quite pleasant and “It’s Only Love” will forever remain one of my favorite duets of all time!

Let’s listen to some music!

 

It’s Only Love

Heaven

Run To You


 

Credits:
“Reckless” official Wikipedia webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reckless_%28Bryan_Adams_album%29
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms

BrothersDireStraits

 Dire Straits’ “Brothers in Arms” is one of those albums that are absolutely essential and one should most certainly have it in their record collection. The level of its greatness can be proven with numbers – 10 weeks at number one on the UK Album charts, 9 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 Chart in USA, 34 weeks at number one on the Australian Album chart and number one on album charts in numerous other countries such as Germany, Greece, Canada, Finland, France, etc. This album literally conquered the world. It sold over 30 million copies worldwide and it’s the eight-best-selling-album in UK chart history and one of the best-selling albums in the world! Why was this album such a phenomenal success? Well, it’s a combination of factors, actually, including a surprisingly well-crafted attack of jazz and rock sound and uplifting pop beats. Let’s look more into it…


Brothers in Arms

BrothersDireStraitsReleased: May 13, 1985
Recorded: November 1984 – March 1985, AIR Studios, Montserrat
Genre: Pop/Rock
Length: 54:40
Label: Vertigo Records (UK), Warner Bros. Records (U.S.)
Producer(s): Neil Dorfsman, Mark Knopfler
Singles: “So Far Away”, “Money for Nothing”, “Brothers in Arms”, “Walk of Life”, “Your Latest Trick”
Personnel: Mark Knopfler – guitars, lead vocals; John Illsley – bass, vocals; Alan Clark – keyboards; Guy Fletcher – synthesizer, backing vocals; Omar Hakim – drums; Terry Williams – drums
Certified: 9xPlatinum (RIAA)

TRACKLIST:

“So Far Away”
“Money for Nothing”
“Walk of Life”
“Your Latest Trick”
“Why Worry”
“Ride Across the River”
“The Man’s Too Strong”
“One World”
“Brothers in Arms”

dire straits brothers in arms cd

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OVERVIEW

 

The album is very carefully produced and crafted in such a beautiful way that can’t but leave an impression. The international success of “Brothers in Arms” should be credited to the finest moment of the album – the hit single “Money for Nothing”, co-written by Sting. The song grabs with its unforgettable guitar riffs and futuristic electronic sound. Not to mention of course its computer-animated music video that established a total dominance on MTV back in the day. The lyrics of “Money for Nothing” are also quite intriguing and comical as they depict an underdog’s objections towards rock music, money and fame.

In addition, Mark Knopfler’s impeccable sense of musicianship and pop songcraft can also be felt in the bluesy, love songs “Why Worry” and “So Far Away”. “Walk of Life” gives us a little bit of that boogie “Sultans of Swing” vibe with its upbeat and optimistic melody. The jazzy “Why Worry” and “Your Latest Trick” impress with well-polished and terrific Caribbean paradise melody and definitely make-up for the rest of the album. The rest of the album is pretty consistent and keeps on demonstrating how Dire Straits managed to scheme a pop-rock album that somehow doesn’t really sound that commercial or ordinary. In conclusion, the album provides outstanding music, perfect arrangements and is most certainly the best one Dire Straits have ever made!

Listen to some of the tracks from “Brothers in Arms”:

Money for Nothing

Your Latest Trick

Walk of Life


 

Credits:
“Brothers in Arms” official Wikipedia webpage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brothers_in_Arms_%28Dire_Straits_album%29
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the rights and credits go to the owners and/publishers.
Cheers~

[The Greatest Rock Albums of the 80s] Foreigner – 4

Foreigner 4

You won’t believe how excited I am to talk about this album. If you follow my publications, you would know that Foreigner and I go way back and my relationship with their music is very personal and very strong – I cannot think of any other band which defines me so much (except Def Leppard, of course). Since we have already established my unconditional love for Foreigner, I think it’s time to move on to their smashing hit record “4” which also happens to be one of my favorite Foreigner albums of all time! I would like to take a moment of your time to talk a little bit more about the album and the brilliant songs you can find on it. Also, I would like to emphasize that there is absolutely no possible excuse for not having this record in your personal collection – it’s a MUST and I urge you to go and get it if you don’t have it yet! If you love classic rock, you should know that “4” is one of the albums that defined the 80s and gave the music industry something to talk about for decades ahead!  


 

Foreigner 4Released: July 2, 1981
Recorded: 1981 at Electric Lady Studios, New York City
Genre: Hard Rock, Rock
Length: 42:10
Label: Atlantic Records
Producer(s): Robert John “Mutt” Lange, Mick Jones
Singles: “Urgent”, “Waiting For A Girl Like You”, “Juke Box Hero”, “Break It Up”, “Luanne”
Personnel: Lou Gramm – lead vocals, percussion; Mick Jones – guitar, backing vocals, keyboards; Rick Wills – bass guitar, backing vocals; Dennis Elliott – drums, backing vocals;


TRACKLIST:

1. “Night Life”
2. “Juke Box Hero”
3. “Break It Up”
4. “Waiting for a Girl Like You”
5. “Luanne”
6. “Urgent”
7. “I’m Gonna Win”
8. “Woman In Black”
9. “Girl On The Moon”
10. “Don’t Let Go”

+Bonus Tracks On 2002 Reissue, Recorded In 1999

– “Juke Box Hero” (Nearly Unplugged Version)
– “Waiting for a Girl Like You” (Nearly Unplugged Version)


Foreigner CD.png


Overview:

Before we move on to the specific songs, I would like to say a few words about the overall sound and influence of “4”.
Foreigner’s “4” hold the #1 position on the Billboard album chart for exactly 10 weeks – this is a phenomenal success and speaks volumes! The album sold over 7 million copies in the US alone and naturally, it was certified as Platinum by the RIAA. Not only that, but “4” achieved some unbelievable success in Europe, as well – for that I can also guarantee personally because in Bulgaria, Foreigner and especially this album are quite loved and deeply appreciated! Tracks such as “Urgent” and “Waiting for a Girl like You” topped the mainstream rock charts and completely changed the course of rock music!
Furthermore, all the songs from the album are written and composed by Mick Jones and/or Lou Gramm. This right here is what I’m talking about – artists writing their own music and lyrics and producing something authentic and truly valuable. That’s definitely what I miss nowadays…

Also, we should not forget about the lengendary Mr Mutt Lange! I’ve said it before and I will say it again – when it comes to producers, Mutt Lange is the absolute genius. With his impeccable attention to detail and ability to just come up with the perfect strategies, Mutt Lange just once again proved that he is a brilliant mastermind when it comes to crafting music and helping an artist reach the top! Interesting fact, he actually contributed with some backing vocals as well – a producer does so many things for a project!

muttlangeproducer
Producer Mutt Lange
Foreigner - 4 1981
Foreigner in 1981

 

In terms of sound, “4” marked Foreigner’s full shift to hard rock. Their previous albums, “Head Games” and “Double Vision” established them as one of the most notable AOR bands of the era; however “4” was actually the album that gave them the ultimate ticket to stardom. With the help of Mutt Lange, who had just finished working on AC/DC’s “Back in Black”, Foreigner were able to craft a very rare and unique combination of mainstream rock sound and one-of-a-kind sounding.
In this album, you can also find some of the most brilliant lyrics ever to be written in the history of rock music. Every song tells us a very alluring and colorful story and your imagination can’t but start working the moment you hear Lou’s voice. I’ve always appreciated the way some bands make your imagination go wild with their lyrics – it’s a very pleasant experience as you just dive yourself into the story and imagine being “the woman in black” or the “juke box hero”.
There are countless songs that explore the topic of achieving the dream of “becoming the ultimate rockstar”; however no other song is as exceptional as “Juke Box Hero”. The rhythm, the chorused vocals, the captivating sudden melody changes and of course the superb lyrics can provide you with the much needed power boost and you can indeed feel the energy running through your veins. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I play “Juke Box Hero” (which by the way is at least 2-3 times per day), I get chills down my spine – this song is better than any energy drink!

…That one guitar, felt good in his hands
Didn’t take long, to understand
Just one guitar, slung way down low
Was one way ticket, only one way to go

So he started rockin’
Ain’t never gonna stop
Gotta keep on rockin’
Someday he’s gonna make it to the top…


 

Another song I’d like to focus your attention on is titled “Waiting for a Girl like You” which in my book, happens to the ultimate example of a flawless classic rock ballad. Since its release, the track has become a must-play for any rock radio and one of the main reasons why the album turned out to be so successful. When we talk about Foreigner and tearjerker songs, naturally “I Want to Know What Love Is” (which comes a few years later in their “Agent Provocateur” album) is the first that comes to our minds. However, if you ask me which Foreigner’s most defining ballad is, I would say “Waiting for a Girl Like you”. To me, this song has everything – touching lyrics, beautiful vocals and most importantly, the feeling of hope…

…It feels so right, so warm and true
I need to know if you feel it too

Maybe I’m wrong
Won’t you tell me if I’m coming on too strong
This heart of mine has been hurt before
This time I want be be sure…


 

At last, I would like to move on to the funky, upbeat and probably Foreigner’s most memorable and career-defining songs – “Urgent”. There’s one thing I love more than piano in rock songs and that’s sax in rock songs! Junior Walker‘s signature saxophone solo is the absolute point of delight for me – I can just listen to this song for days!

…Got fire in your veins
Burnin’ hot but you don’t feel the pain
Your desire is insane
You can’t stop until you do it again

But sometimes I wonder as I look in your eyes
Maybe you’re thinking of some other guy
But I know, yes I know, how to treat you right
That’s why you call me in the middle of the night…


 

Some other energetic, catchy, impeccably written melodic rock tunes from “4”, include “Don’t Let Go”, “Luanne” and my personal favourite “Woman in Black”. Just listen to this awesome guitar intro…

…I saw a dark silhouette, at the table
I tried to talk, but I was unable
She drew me in right under her spell
I was hypnotized by the sudden temptation

Of that woman in black, she’s a mystery
She’s everything a woman should be
Woman in black, she’s got a hold on me
She’s in control, she won’t set me free…


 

I will wrap up things by saying that through it all, vocalist Lou Gramm does his role in the most exceptional way one could imagine. I’ve said it before – he is without doubt one of the finest voices of his generation. “4” is probably the album which completely assured his throne in the category of the greatest male rock vocalists. Song such as “Urgent”, “Waiting for a Girl like You” and “I’m Gonna Win” perfectly illustrate his vocal capacity and I am beyond delighted with the way those tracks match his voice! Nothing more to say – his voice is everything!
The following years were quite turbulent for Foreigner, as Lou Gramm and guitarist Mick Jones would often clash and engage in countless ego wars. Eventually, those tensions would lead to the band’s collapse. Nevertheless, “4” remains their ultimate career pick and one of the greatest rock albums ever!

Mick and Lou
Mick and Lou Together on Stage
Songwriters Hall Of Fame 44th Annual Induction And Awards - Backstage
Mick Jones and Lou Gramm attend the Songwriters Hall of Fame 44th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner at the New York Marriott Marquis on June 13, 2013 in New York City.

 

Credits:
Foreigner Official Wikipedia Page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreigner_%28band%29
Foreigner, 4 (album) Official Wikipedia Page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4_%28Foreigner_album%29
“4” Album Review, retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/album/4-mw0000189922
P.S. I don’t own any audio or visual materials used in this publication. All the credits and rights go to the owners and/publishers.